Objectives: Emerging data suggest that vitamin D has a significant role in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Prospective data evaluating the association of vitamin D serum status and disease course are lacking. We sought to determine the relationship between vitamin D status and clinical course of IBD over a multiyear time period.
Methods: IBD patients with up to 5-year follow-up from a longitudinal IBD natural history registry were included. Patients were categorized according to their mean serum 25-OH vitamin D level. IBD clinical status was approximated with patterns of medication use, health-care utilization, biochemical markers of inflammation (C-reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)), pain and clinical disease activity scores, and health-related quality of life.
Results: A total of 965 IBD patients (61.9% Crohn's disease, 38.1% ulcerative colitis) formed the study population (mean age 44 years, 52.3% female). Among them, 29.9% had low mean vitamin D levels. Over the 5-year study period, subjects with low mean vitamin D required significantly more steroids, biologics, narcotics, computed tomography scans, emergency department visits, hospital admissions, and surgery compared with subjects with normal mean vitamin D levels (P<0.05). Moreover, subjects with low vitamin D levels had worse pain, disease activity scores, and quality of life (P<0.05). Finally, subjects who received vitamin D supplements had a significant reduction in their health-care utilization.
Conclusions: Low vitamin D levels are common in IBD patients and are associated with higher morbidity and disease severity, signifying the potential importance of vitamin D monitoring and treatment.